History of the Pakistani luxury carpet, from its origins to the present day
In some ways, Pakistani luxury carpets represent the sum total of all the oriental traditions that have specialised in the creation of handmade carpets. The Pakistani style is the result of a combination of Persian knowledge, Indian craftsmanship and Turkmen tradition. The result of this contamination are carpets of great artistic value, which have adorned the most exclusive homes over the centuries.
Carpets born from the encounter of different cultures
If there is one thing that all Oriental carpets have in common, it is their origin, the result of the meeting of different peoples and cultures. This is even truer of Pakistani carpets, which are the result of the union between the industriousness of expatriate craftsmen from India and the manufacturing tradition that had previously developed between Persia and Turkmenistan. The geographical position of Pakistan, at the crossroads of these different worlds, was decisive in this process of stylistic hybridisation.
For example, the Pakistani people of the Lahore and Karachi regions were able to fuse Persian manufacturing techniques with the designs typical of Turkmen culture, resulting in carpets of great quality and extremely refined appearance.
From a certain point onwards, the element that has most characterised Pakistani luxury carpets and made them unique compared to those produced in neighbouring countries is the fabric chosen. The Pakistani tradition has relied on wool from Australia. Unlike the fleece of Asian animals, the fibres obtained from Australian animals are softer, thinner and shinier.
The use of this wool has led to two very interesting results. On the one hand, it allowed for a denser knotting, which made the Pakistani carpet more solid and resistant. On the other hand, it has provided an almost shiny finish, which is very reminiscent of the effect of silk.
Thanks to these characteristics, the Pakistani carpet has managed to gain its own distinct identity. Specifically, this meant the typical warmth of wool carpets combined with a surprising texture.
The colours and patterns of Pakistani luxury carpets
While the production technique is that of Persian carpets, with asymmetrical knotting on a cotton warp and weft, when it comes to design traditional Pakistani luxury carpets are closely reminiscent of Turkmen carpets.
The predominant colour is red, obtained by dyeing the wool fibres with natural pigments, usually extracted from dyeing herbs - such as madder - or of animal origin - as in the case of cochineal. There are also carpets made in different colours, such as blue and yellow, also obtained from natural pigments such as indigo and saffron.
In most cases, Pakistani luxury carpets are based on patterns used in Turkmen bokhara carpets. The pattern consists of a repetition of medallions (guls) along the entire surface of the carpet, which are connected to each other and create a visually striking geometric design. Also enhancing the repetition of the gul pattern is the free margin that is left on the short side of the carpet.
Even if only marginally, luxury carpets of Persian and Caucasian inspiration can also be found in the Pakistani tradition. These include carpets known as Ziegler or Kazak. These carpets deviate from the prevailing Pakistani tradition in terms of their lighter colours and more elaborate patterns than those developed in the Turkmen regions.
Faithful reproductions of Afghan, Indian or Turkish oriental carpets can also be found in Pakistan. In all cases, Pakistani craftsmen have added their own personal interpretation of foreign traditions. This means that they have not confined themselves to banal copies, but have created luxurious carpets with unique and recognisable nuances.
But what is the reason for the success of the high-end carpets produced by Pakistani craftsmen? The seemingly simpler design compared to the carpets popular in China and Persia is perhaps the main reason for such international acclaim, which has led to several pieces being used to furnish many luxurious homes over the past two centuries. Other reasons for such a great response? Undoubtedly also in the high quality of the craftsmanship, as mentioned above. And also in the unique elegance and majesty that characterise these carpets. As we have already pointed out, the Pakistani carpet was born as a contamination of several experiences, but it has been able to give the productions a singular character, which makes it recognisable and therefore sought after.
Perfect for furnishing a classic-style living room or for giving an ethnic accent to modern furnishings, luxury Pakistani carpets fit perfectly into a wide variety of interior design projects. With their warmth, these carpets make a home both cosy and refined. They are therefore an ideal accessory for surprising guests, but even more so for making family life more pleasant and beautiful.
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